A Good Initiative?

A Good Initiative?



A great strategy followed by poor execution has led to some of the leading businesses stumbling in the blocks. For instance, Walmart decided to open its business in Brazil, but the company failed to carry out due diligence to the Brazilian way of life which led to disastrous consequences. Similarly, United Airlines tried to compete with South West Airlines, a low-cost Airline, by coming up with a subsidiary. However, the new company made use of a cost structure similar to that of its parent and the after-effects were evident pretty soon.


Experts believe that companies need to put equal thrust in people and processes for obtaining the right results. But how many companies truly manage to execute their strategies for the best outcome?


Kreta is a health insurance firm with over 100 employees and catering to almost all the states in India. Established in 2010, this company has set itself apart from its competitors by focusing on customer service and abiding by the motto, “Scaling up with care”. They have a reputation for treating their employees very well, and the current CEO, Mr. Ishan Sharma, believes in the philosophy of people being the main drivers of a successful business. He has been at the forefront of several small initiatives that helped people from all walks of life and has been waiting to start a big project that works towards the same.


With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mr. Sharma decided to utilise funds that had been kept aside for their social initiatives and work for the well-being of people who are in need. Kreta astutely observed that their customers required not only physical health services but, had a multifold increase in the requirement for mental health services as well. This led to the inception of the idea of Mission Swasthya, a pan-India helpline to provide psychosocial support to individuals affected by COVID-19.


Mr. Sharma wished for the project to help people all across the country, and leaving no stone unturned to achieve this, he got his best man on the job, Arjun Grover. Arjun served as the Portfolio Manager of the company and had risen quickly through the ranks. Arjun had shown great thinking and execution when it came to projects handled by him in the past, and this led to Mr. Sharma’s confidence in him as the best person to lead this project.


Arjun immediately understood what the project required and began to devise a strategy to collaborate with a company competent to provide counselling services and pool their expertise. Finally, after due diligence, he narrowed it down to collaborating with Health Space, an organisation working for the psychological welfare of individuals with a rich history of being a part of many non-profit initiatives.


Arjun thought that this company was a perfect fit for their requirements as they had a team of senior psychologists who had expertise in training a large number of volunteer counsellors. Arjun devised a plan to effectively utilise the stipulated budget allocated to the project. The funds allotted for Mission Swasthya was Rupees 40 lakhs for a period of three months, out of which the technical setup for the helpline would take up Rupees 12 lakhs and the collaboration with Health Space, the cost of Rupees 12 lakhs for the entirety. This cost is charged by Health Space for utilising the network of their existing volunteer data pool, training of the volunteers in psychosocial tele-counselling, supervision of the volunteers, monitoring and evaluation of the impact, etc. The rest of the budget had been set apart for a micro-honorarium or small stipend of the temporary workforce and volunteer counsellors. While it is not mandatory to pay the volunteers, the employee well-being policy of Kreta was binding to ensure that the workforce engaged with them is compensated at least a small way as a token of appreciation.


To oversee the plans for the people who would be associated with the entire project, Arjun got Ms. Seema Tripathi on board, an HR team member of Kreta and in charge of the Pay and Compensation wing. She has had vast experience dealing with different compensation structures, and Arjun considers her judgment to be of paramount importance.


As Mission Swasthya had set a target of providing tele-counselling services to 10,000+ individuals during the period of three months, the challenge in front of Seema Tripathi was to ensure that the remaining budget of the initiative that was set aside for paying the temporary workforce would be utilised effectively. Determining the number of volunteers required to ensure the desired outcome, designing a reasonable stipend structure as well as designing a framework for their engagement with the initiative while making them feel engaged enough to continue their volunteership was also a task at hand for Seema.


The project started on a high note with a lot of media attention to the initiative and all eyes were on Mission Swasthya to see whether it could successfully create the desired impact on the wellbeing of the community.


After a month, reports started flooding in on how the initiative was not performing up to the mark. The supervision of the cases was poor; the records were not adequately maintained and the lack of zeal from the side of the volunteers resulted in improper reporting of the impact of the initiative. When the CEO asked Arjun for a report on the progress, Arjun conveyed that he felt that Health Space was not holding up their part of the deal in the collaboration. When Arjun approached the project manager from Health Space the complaint was that the funds allotted for the project were insufficient for the proper functioning of the initiative. This resulted in strained communications and relationships between the two companies and was putting the outcome of the project at stake.


The CEO realised that Seema Tripathi could turn this conflict around and has asked her to step in and devise a strategy to solve these issues.



 Dr. Deepika Pandita is an Associate Professor at Symbiosis Institue of Business       Management,  Pune. She has over 15 years of experience in industry and academics. She is a certified Practioner in various psychometric tests. 






Seema should invite Arjun Grover and the Health Space Team for a joint meeting. She will need to act as a facilitator for the discussion between Health Space and Kreta. Health Space will need to list out their side of the problem, followed by concerns from Kreta. The root cause of the problem will have to be identified and the factors leading to the said problem will have to be spelt out. As is evident, one of the primary concerns seems to be the lack of adequate supervision and a reporting/ progress tracking mechanism. However, there might be other problems as well which may have been overlooked by both parties.


As a first step, Seema will then have to share the plan she has deployed to hire, compensate and retain these volunteers. In depth analysis of the number of volunteers deployed per person/call will have to be listed out. Next, as a team, both Kreta and Health Space will need to decide if the existing number of volunteers is sufficient, if not, more volunteers will have to be onboarded. A strong tracking and reporting mechanism will need to be put in place. Seema will need to collate the numbers on a weekly basis and share it with the leadership team of Health Space and Kreta.


A feedback mechanism for the callers should be put in place, wherein, they can rate the quality of the interaction and also provide positive /negative comments, if any. This can serve as an excellent medium for recognising volunteers who are doing a great job, in addition to understanding the shortcomings that some of the volunteers may have.


As a next step, a recognition plan for the volunteers will have to be created. On the floor, public recognition of volunteers who are going above can be done, with the leadership of Health Space presenting a small token/ certificate of appreciation to the volunteers. Also, a Wall of Fame board with the pictures and names of the topperforming volunteers can be put up in the common area of the office. This will create a sense of healthy competition between the volunteers and promote focus on performing better.


Further, the quality of calls and the kind of interaction happening between the volunteers and the callers will have to be monitored. A senior and experienced Volunteer or Seema herself will have to randomly listen in to a few calls and provide feedback to the volunteers where necessary. In addition, in-house training on Voice quality, empathy, better listening should be organised for all volunteers to ensure interaction of the highest quality between the volunteers and the callers.


A contract must also be signed between the two parties, and the terms and conditions of what is expected from both parties must be drawn up. This will ensure that everything is legally documented ensuring legal safety at both ends. The contract should clearly list out roles and responsibilities of both parties, along with penalties involved in case there is deviation at either end.


Lastly, a detailed action plan with clearly defined milestones will have to be submitted to the CEO of Kreta. This will help in putting into perspective the fact that the problem hampering Mission Swasthya has been identified and action is being taken to set things right. A monthly meeting between Seema, Health Space and Kreta should be organised to track progress closely and alter the course of action where necessary.


 Parul Bahl is a Human resource professional with over 8 years of experience in Talent   engagement, acquisition and development. Currently with DLF, she has also worked with TCS   in the past.






“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you are playing a solo game, you will lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman


The pandemic has invited a plethora of social and mental well-being initiatives by a lot of organisations. Mental and social wellness held the highest priority for most of the people and countries across the globe and witnessed a major awareness amongst people regarding the same.


While Kreta launched a project taking into account a lot of factors and onboarded people with a certain thought process, it requires a certain skill set to start and end a task in a systematic manner. Certain competencies like accountability, risk management, adherence to timelines, critical thinking and rigorous monitoring of ongoing task management play a crucial role. Another key crucial factor for project management is the collaboration between team members. Collaboration is all about being able to think long term alongside gaining an understanding of a project’s scope. Adaptability also plays a crucial role while working on a certain task as it is imperative that priorities shift from time to time based on circumstances. With adaptability comes a sense of healthy disagreement as well which leads to innovation, resilience and constructive criticism.


From an overall achievement perspective below could have been handled in a better way in terms of communications and improper reporting between all the parties involved:–


Effective use of digitisation: The impact of the project could have been facilitated better by using digitised mediums like social media (this involves the frequency of communication, the audience and can have an element of gamification probably to ensure two-way communication) and use of virtual platforms for awareness. Studies  often shows that digitisation, and particularly, the use of social media has skyrocketed over the years and effective utilisation of the same could yield the best results for the organisation.


Discussing/having an escalation matrix in place: While executing large scale projects, it is imperative that there will be challenges/ obstacles. It is the role of the project manager to have a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) in place to ensure that it is dealt with in the right manner and involves the right stakeholders. The Escalation matrix also enables to set up Service Level Agreements (SLAs) along with the creation of a steady level of contacts to resolve certain issues. This enables them to have a quick face-to-face conversation with the concerned parties which enables proactive communication.


Record Management: Effective policies and guidelines must be in place to ensure a record-keeping of budget sanctions, documentation of the purpose, creation to ensure that there is proper evidence against each major milestone achieved. Record keeping also helps in managing compliance with the laws and regulations along with minimising litigation risks. Another key factor here is disaster management and its steps to adhere to which can be easily done if record management is carried out at the right time. The overall impact of record management is faster decision-making in case of any kind of calamity, and hence, staying ahead of the competition.


The respective parties must ensure that a RACI is conducted to understand the underlying problems against each of the reasons, involve each of the parties and stakeholders and ensure the same is effectively solved.



 Nikeeta Gupta is a seasoned HR professional with experience in large and mid-sized   organisations as well as start-ups. She comes with expertise in talent management,   organisational development and has served as a human resources business partner for the   sales team.




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